A little while back, RT fell on a concrete patio and fractured a rib. These things, painful as they are, can focus our energies and get us moving again. They can also drive us a little crazy, which might not be a bad thing, either.
Which brings us to tonight’s set of poems (and by the way, the rib seems to be healing nicely). All poems have an appointment with an anonymous meaning coach, which they may or may not keep. RT isn’t sure about this set, sidetracked, perhaps, by certain siren calls. The coach, in the meantime, taps its fingers loudly, as it should; we don’t want our words to be mish-mash.
The bargain isn’t easily struck. Each poem has its own inner necessity or logic, which is the meaning that it offers. But like the electric guitars that RT was listening to while he composed, such steely structure is offset by shape, color, tuning, and a combination of visual and musical drama. Poems can give little guidance as they emerge, or maybe all that is needed. It’s about what sounds good. And what means something (but what?).
three shorts #3
your fractured rib is;
mind forgotten, tottering.
death laughs; you laugh, gasp.
the boy next door curses—
proud, the cell-phone hum-a-lums
you back. buzz, beer bee!
before you, being
and ere February pass,
your car eyes. fat snow.
© 2017, The Rag Tree
Photo: 1990 Yamaha Pacifica 921. Freebird from Madrid, Spain. WikiCmns. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Introspection has not been much in vogue for, well, the last four or five centuries, at least in the West, anyway. The man of thought has become the man of action, the one who changes the world, makes things better. As we head pell-mell into the post-digital, post-handwritten, robot-manufactured world, the question of just where we might be going should give us pause for thought. Certainly the notion that the very act of thinking could itself alter the world, build its complexity and beauty, and of course its wisdom, would meet with a sceptical response these days. Yet RT suspects that something like this understanding lies close to the heart of Eastern religion and art. This is the world we dream of, the world which heals us and in which we have our true place. It is not magic, but a sense of a broader connection to our surroundings.
Du Fu seems to have started his career as a gifted poet, but one who had not met with profound suffering. The collapse of China in the mid-8th century forced him to flee the capital, and to confront in a basic way his life and the unfolding of history around him. Out of his despair he refashioned the possibilities of Chinese poetry, the Chinese people, and RT would argue, the possibilities of humanity as it today struggles with overwhelming change.
Winding River 1
a last petal falling marks the close of spring;
trees shed their 10,000 tears in contentious winds.
I’ll drink my wine, then, and examine
blossoms lying trampled in the mud.
and yet, in the abandoned riverside pavilion,
kingfishers flash and mate. At the foot
of high tombs in the park, stone unicorns
rest in conjugal silence.
all things live in their joy—
exiled from the palace, I wander,
Photo: Statues in the Imperial Tomb of Tang Emperor Gaozong. Zingaro. WikiCmns. CC BY 2.0.
It’s September, the month when by tradition dragons are wont to travel about the world, visiting places that most of us humans would avoid. We might find the poles and the antipodes a rather barren and challenging environment, but no so the gentledrakes of RT’s acquaintance. They love nothing better than a good snowball fight! And never mind a blizzard or two, pouring down particles upon particles; the Dragons of Grammar have found the design and interest of grammatical particles to be subtler than we might think.
You might be forgiven, and you certainly wouldn’t be alone, if you thought that “yes” and “no” are a relatively simple business in English. Well, yes and no. Modern English settles for just two possible answers to a straightforward inquiry: 1) yes, or 2) no.
Old English, on the other hand, had a subtler system of answering questions: the four-form system. What this means is, that four the sake of clarity, questions were divided into two categories: negative (“Will he not go?) and positive (“Will he go?”). Following this logic,, responses were also divided into negative and positive categories: 1) for negative, yes, he will go or no, he will not go; for positive, yea, he will go or nay, he will not go. Any English-speaker will remember being unsure of how to respond to negative questions: “Will he not go?”; Is the speaker asking whether the person will stay, or is he asking, will the person go? The solution to this quandary over the centuries has apparently been to drop the negative form of questions, to the extent possible (or at least that’s RT’s experience of the problem), but to keep the pair of negative responses. Go figure.
Meanwhile, returning to this post’s title, a sentence’s polarity simply indicates whether or not a statement affirms (positive) or denies (negative) a statement: positive (“James is here.”) or negative (“James is not here”).
And finally, we turn to the matter of particles. A particle is a part of speech which does not belong to any of the defined categories (for instance, nouns, verbs, articles) but which help convey a speaker’s meaning (examples include “not”and “to”) Particles are never inflected..
The Dragons of Grammar are rolling their eyeballs: if only humans would adopt the precision that exists in their language Dragonish. Keeping with their litigious nature and need for clarity, dragons have an Eight-form system for their responses: Positive: 1) yes, 2) yag (as in “Yes, and you’re being awfully inquisitive today”), 3) yog (as in “I was planning to, but I’m uncertain at the moment.”), 4) yigi (as in “I wasn’t planning to, but you’ve interested me in the possibility.”) and Negative 5) no, 6) noog (as in “No. I’m feeling lousy; don’t ask again.”), 7) negeehi (as in “No. Can’t you see I’m busy?”, and 8) natti :as in “No. Care for an Etruscan Salami?”). RT’s contacts in the DoGs assure him that it’s a snap to learn 8-form. RT has his doubts about their claim: Natti!! But his interlocutor merely replies: “No. Care for a snowball fight?” RT
Photograph: Snowball Fight, Montana State University. Author: ZeWrestler. WikiCmns; Public Domain.
flower, brain, coral? In fact, a photograph of the Orange Bracket Fungus. nature at its most creative…RT
Photo: Orange Bracket Fungus; Author: Nicolas A. Tonelli. WikiCmns; CC 2.0 Generic.
On the subject of mystery and creations, here’s one that RT is dealing with on a personal level: he was born in Brazil and left when he was four years old. He has never been back…but, well, these things have a way of working themselves out.
Here’s one place that RT’s family never got to while in the country. The reason? My mother was pregnant with guess who. Sorry, Mom!!
And what is this magical place? The opera house that money from rubber plantations along the Amazon built: the Teatro Amazonas, completed in 1896 in the center of Manaus, the capital of Amazonas State in Brazil.
Amazonas is large, but extremely sparsely populated: 98 percent of the state is covered by the Amazon Rain Forest. Nonetheless, Manaus is a big city–population 1.8 million–and the opera house is an impressive edifice–it seats 700 and is constructed from bricks made in Europe, French glass, and Italian marble. It is the home of the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra and boasts a full schedule of performances and events.
What a remarkable achievement… RT
Photo: Teatro Amazonas; user: Pontanegra; WikiCmns; CC 2.5 Generic.
it’s nice to be able to still read something in French the first time through (after all these years)…enjoy! RT
Il y a des jours quand je n’ai aucune idée comment réagir aux situations. Je sens un mélancolie profond de ma vie et du monde. J’espère de trouver l’amour un jour, mais c’est pas maintenant. Donc je continue. Je sais je ne peux pas arrêter le souffrance ou le pauvreté. Mais je veux aider. Avec tout de mon cœur je veux aider. Le monde souffre. C’est comme un couteau dans mon âme.
Un jour, je ferai quelque chose qui est beau pour le monde. Je le veux bien.
Mais pour maintenant je vive pour un jour après l’autre.